Director of first ever ‘Captain America’, Albert Pyun passes away at 69

The maker of 20 films including Cyborg, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Nemesis, and Captain America was suffering from multiple sclerosis and dementia


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Albert Pyun. — Courtesy: Twitter
Albert Pyun. — Courtesy: Twitter

Published: Sun 27 Nov 2022, 8:50 PM

Filmmaker Albert Pyun, who was the director of several cult classics including Cyborg, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Nemesis, and the 1989 Captain America, passed away on Saturday in Las Vegas, Nevada at the age of 69.

According to Variety, a US-based news outlet, a few years ago, Pyun received dual diagnoses of multiple sclerosis and dementia. His producer and wife Cynthia Curnan had been providing periodic updates on his health in the previous months.

Later, as the director’s health started deteriorating, she requested his admirers to send him private messages.

Confirming Pyun’s death on Facebook, Curnan wrote: “I sat with him for his last breath that sounded like he was releasing the weight of the world.”

As per a report by Variety, Pyun evolved an immersive style of dreamy lighting, post-apocalyptic dilapidation, and surreal, balletic action for a direct-to-video market, working primarily with minimal budgets.

Over time, genre film viewers built a passionate following for Pyun’s work. Throughout his four-decade filmmaking career, Pyun collaborated with action heroes such as Burt Reynolds, Christopher Lambert, Jean-Claude Van Damme, actor-rapper Snoop Dogg, Charlie Sheen, Ice-T, Lance Henriksen, Ronny Cox, Kris Kristofferson, James Coburn, Rutger Hauer and Dennis Hopper.

Born in Hawaii on May 19, 1953, Pyun was raised as a military child and lived on bases across the globe before his family returned to the Rainbow State. Toshiro Mifune, a Japanese actor, encouraged Pyun to work as an intern on the set of Akira Kurosawa’s 1975 classic ‘Derzu Uzula’ after seeing one of Pyun’s short films.

After Mifune dropped out of the project, Takao Saito, Kurosawa’s go-to cinematographer, instructed Pyun as she worked on the making of one of the actor’s TV shows.

Pyun travelled to Los Angeles after returning to Hawaii to shoot advertisements. With the high fantasy epic ‘The Sword and the Sorcerer,’ he began his film career in 1982. With only a $4 million budget, the film’s $40 million box office triumph was an unexpected commercial success.

Pyun established a strong working connection with Cannon Pictures, which recognised his capacity to manage resourceful productions with short turnarounds. He produced more than 20 feature films throughout the 1990s, including his four-part ‘Nemesis’ series and ‘Captain America,’ which was the first full-length live-action depiction of the Marvel Comics character, in 1990.

At the turn of the century, Pyun started funding his own projects. During this phase, he produced films such as ‘Road to Hell’, ‘Bulletface’ and ‘Invasion’. The director kept receiving medical care in the latter years of his directorial career while working on his projects.

According to his wife, Pyun had been working on two unfinished movies before his death, with the intention of turning them into six-part TV series.

She wrote: “Failure had never been an option for Albert.”

Pyun is survived only by his wife, according to a report by Variety.

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